Joe Klein Lowers The Boom On Corsi, Matalin, McCain

Joe Klein, who's been recently fighting the same sorts of base attacks, makes a stern denouncement of the entire Swift Boatesque operation behind Jerome Corsi's Obama Nation. It's damn near pugilistic, and pointedly criticizes all the parties involved.

Klein barely dignifies the book itself with a comment, terming it a part of "the market for trash." Of McCain, Klein says, "Back in the day, John McCain was the sort of politician who would stand first in line to call out this sort of swill," that there's "no way to balance it, or explain it other than as evidence of a severe character defect on the part of the candidate who allows [the book] to be used," and finishes him off with this tercio de muerte:

Apparently, though, McCain isn't confident that conservative policies and personal experience can win, given the ruinous state of the nation after eight years of Bush. So he has made a fateful decision: he has personally impugned Obama's patriotism and allows his surrogates to continue to do that. By doing so, he has allied himself with those who smeared him, his wife, his daughter Bridget, in 2000. Those tactics won George Bush a primary--and a nomination. But they proved a form of slow-acting spiritual poison, rotting the core of the Bush presidency.

For my money, though, his calling out of Mary Matalin is the most riveting:

But hey, Mary stands to make big bucks off this scholarship, which I'm sure was submitted for peer review and otherwise held to the highest editorial standards--and I'm sure her reputation and mediagenicity won't be damaged by this poisonous crap, and we're all friends here, aren't we? And, yknow, they say politics ain't beanbag...and it's all in the game to tell innocent, well-intentioned people that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim or that John Kerry wasn't really a hero in Vietnam. Or, as George W. Bush once told a rightly outraged John McCain--whose wife and daughter Bush's minions had smeared--"It's just politics."

Yowch. More than the sarcasm, it's that poisonous reference to "mediagenicity" and the "we're all friends here, aren't we" remark that stick out in my reading. Klein's not taking any editorial distance to the matter: he's firing shots from inside the clubhouse. That sort of gives this assessment a little extra heft:

Back in the day, John McCain was the sort of politician who would stand first in line to call out this sort of swill. (As, I'm sure Barack Obama or John Kerry would do, if some hate-crazed, money-grubbing left-winger published a book claiming that McCain had been successfully brainwashed in Vietnam--as Kerry did indeed do when a group of spurious Bush-backing Vietnam vets tried to claim exactly that about McCain during the 2000 Republican primary in South Carolina.)

But we're not seeing those sorts of claims being made about McCain this year...because Democrats tend not to do that sort of thing. They are the sorts of claims that Republicans--Bush Republicans--make.